The two judges in the Duncan v. Becerra majority got it wrong. The majority’s opinion conflicts with the court’s own precedents and decisions by six other federal appeals courts that have maintained magazine limits under the 2nd Amendment. Authored by a judge appointed by President Donald Trump, the opinion is also striking in what it gets wrong about guns and self-defense. While the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes that the 2nd Amendment grants people the right to keep some firearms in their homes for self-defense, its rulings emphasize that this right is “not unlimited” and is “not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever.”
California’s [large capacity magazine] law creates precisely the type of reasonable limitations the 2nd Amendment allows. Contrary to what the majority decided in Duncan v. Becerra, this law isn’t about self-defense at all. Experts in the Duncan case identified no instance in which any law-abiding Californian has ever needed to use an LCM in self-defense (the law lets people possess as many 10-round magazines as they want).
In brushing off the lack of connection between LCMs and self-defense, the panel majority elevated unsubstantiated fears of gun owners rather than Californians’ actual safety. While some gun owners might feel safer with unlimited access to the most lethal firepower, I think most Californians want to actually be safer from the mass shootings, hate crimes and gun violence that have become all too routine. Evidence tells us that protecting people from this type of violence is exactly what gun safety laws like those in California do.
I believe that had it correctly applied 2nd Amendment case law, the majority would have reached a different outcome. Before concluding that LCMs are essential for self-defense, the judges should have considered research showing that firearms are generally an ineffective means of self-defense and can perpetuate racial bias and police violence. As “stand your ground” laws prove, the impulse to fire rapidly at someone in “self-defense” contributes to race-motivated killings, as in the recent Ahmaud Arbery case.
– Giffords litigation director Hannah Shearer in CA must stand for gun safety, keep fighting for magazine restrictions